Monday, October 18, 2010

The End of a Veggie Tale

Some of you may already know that Sean and I participated in a CSA program this summer. It all started with a Kashi ad in my Real Simple magazine...and then a quick browse on the Internet...and then sending a big fat check to some farmers in Hohenwald, TN. I had friends who participated in CSA programs before, and I was willing to give it a shot. It took a bit of convincing to get Sean on board, but he finally gave in and let me get my way. At times it was a bit overwhelming because there were too many veggies, and most of them I didn't recognize. Or, if i recognized them, I hadn't cooked them before. In addition to the vegetables, our weekly ration also included a portion of meat (chicken or pork) and a half dozen eggs.

The CSA box had to be picked up every Sunday at 2:30. The drive was only 3 miles up the road, but sometimes it was a challenge if we had plans to be out of town, or on the other side of town. After swinging by the pick-up station, we'd return home to take an inventory of the goods, and then it was time for me to find creative ways to cook, can or freeze the massive amounts of produce we had. At one point I had an entire crisper drawer full of red new potatoes...

Here's a shot of the last box we received a couple of Sundays ago...

...and our refrigerator afterwards. You can tell a lot about someone by taking a peek into their fridge. I'm curious - what do you think about Sean and me after seeing ours (click the picture to enlarge)?

6 months of fresh, locally grown, organic produce
Supporting the local economy and farmers
Learning how to can and freeze
Trying new foods and testing new recipes
The farm sent a newsletter and a weekly email with the option to buy "extras." I regret never trying their homemade cinnamon rolls...

Mandatory pick-up time. Not that it was terrible, just sometimes tricky to plan your day.
Not getting to choose what you want to eat. I subscribe to Cooking Light and Real Simple, and I love them for the recipes, but I didn't get a chance to try many of them because I needed to use what came in the box.
Excessive amounts of food. We bought the small box fit for 2 people, but there was SO. MUCH. FOOD. And they didn't give us massive amounts of the good stuff - just potatoes. Oh, and cucumbers. I would've much rather had a box full of heirloom tomatoes, but that's just part of the risk, I guess. I felt terribly guilty because some weeks I couldn't keep up with the cooking/canning/freezing, and I accidentally let a lot of food wilt or spoil.
Time. The time it took to catalogue everything. The time it took to meal plan and try to maximize all of the product. The time it took to freeze and can vegetables. I do not recommend this CSA box thing for working mothers. I'm not even a mother and I sure had a hell of a time keeping up with it!

I truly appreciated the food, the farmers and the program altogether, but I don't think I can subscribe to the CSA box again. I'd rather visit the farmer's market every weekend (where the same farm sells produce) and just gather what I need for the week.

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